The Learning Challenge

Monday 17th October - Launch Assembly - The Challenge!


All the children have had the opportunity to tell us what they think about the challenges they are given in maths and English.  ‘Challenges’ are the three learning tasks that are set by the teacher for a learning objective. The children choose which challenge they think suits their current level of understanding and work on it during the lesson.  This happens in years Two to Six.


We gathered together in groups led by Year 6 and with adult support, to discuss challenges in lessons.  The children explained what they thought about the challenges they are given, how hard or easy they are and also how they decide which one to attempt.


The children were also asked to come up with the names for the three levels of challenges that are given.  At the moment, some classes call them A, B and C, and other classes call them 1, 2 and 3 or something different again.  We want all classes to use the same names for the challenges so that all the children know what to expect.  Also, we are sure that the pupils will come up with something far more interesting than the names used at the moment.  Class Councils have already taken place on this subject and suggestions will be heard at School Council where a decision on names will be made after Half Term. 


For the following seven weeks, we will be focussing on the level of challenges provided so that all pupils have the opportunity to make progress.  The children should feel that they sometimes get stuck; ‘wrestle’ with the learning; persevere; make some mistakes; learn from the experience and feel a real sense of achievement when they reach a learning objective.  In other words, we really want our pupils to know it is OK to get things wrong to start with, and that there should be no limit on how much they can challenge themselves. 


We will be reviewing our work on Challenges near Christmas.


Thursday 27th October.


On the Friday before half term, all our staff joined around 400 other cluster school staff at Thorpe St. Andrew High School (TSAHS) to learn about 'Growth Mindset' from Professor Barry Hymer, a learning theory expert.


He explained that people can have a 'fixed' or a 'growth' mindset when it comes to things like challenges.  He went on to explain that people with a 'fixed mindset' tend to avoid challenges and give up easily, seeing effort as fruitless. They tend to ignore useful criticism too.  People with a 'growth mindset' tend to embrace challenges and persist in the face of setbacks.  He said that they see effort as a path to mastery and that they learn from criticism.


A growth mindset sounded better to us!  In the afternoon, all the teachers from Little Plumstead CEVA Primary and some representatives from the other TSAHS cluster primaries met with the professor.  He helped us to think about ways to give opportunities for our pupils to develop their growth mindsets and how to develop a love for learning.  




Thursday 3rd November

The school council met earlier this week to shortlist the names for the challenges.  Each pupil has been given a voting slip and votes will take place later today. The results will be in next week’s blog.

Inspirational Maths Week has ‘inspired’ even more mathematical thinking in the classrooms and the staffroom this week.  We are looking forward to welcoming parents and carers in for the open morning tomorrow to share the learning. 

Last night, we held a ‘PATHS’ evening for parents to introduce the Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies work which each class are involved in.  Feedback was positive and people said they had heard their children talking about PATHS and now they knew what it was all about.  There will be a link in the School Newsletter shortly which can be followed online to information and resources for PATHS.  The Control Signals strategy is a useful tip for solving problems at home and at school.

Thursday 10th November
The children have voted and the names of the challenges are...
Gold, Platinum and Diamond.  These names will be used in every class from Year 1 to Year 6 whenever children are working on challenges in this way.  
Inspirational maths week was terrific fun.  We welcomed lots of parents and carers in to the classrooms on Friday 4th November and we all 'grew our brains' together with some pattern-finding and problem solving.  There were many mathematical discussions taking place around tables up and down the school. Visitors were heard commenting that they wished maths was like this when they were at school!  
Family Challenges are coming home tonight!
Thursday 17th November
The big news this week is all about the Family Challenges!  What an amazing response from families across the school.  Have a look at some of the photographs.  The display in the foyer looks impressive and there's still plenty of time to have a go and send your work in to school.  
The children have said that they have enjoyed getting their families involved in the challenges. There have been so many different approaches to the problems and even more ways of presenting them.  It goes to show that maths can be creative and there can be more than one way to solve problems.
Thursday 1st December
The teaching staff have been sharing ideas and discussing best approaches in their classrooms with each other.  Sharing best practice is a really good way to keep using the ideas that work the best.  Discussions focused on how and when to use challenges in English lessons and which have worked well.  
After sharing these, talk moved to maths and a refreshing look at the various teaching and learning resources available in school.  It is a good idea to regularly think about different learning and teaching methods and to share the expertise around a bit!